Civil society contact with victims of human trafficking

RealStars is participating in the initiative Plattformen Civila Sverige mot människohandel (Swedish civil society platform against human trafficking) which has brought together several Swedish organisation in one informal network. In preparation for the upcoming EU Anti-trafficking Day 18 October, an important project was presented and for the first time revealing statistics on civil society contact with human trafficking victims. The statistics cover the years 2010-2014 and contains detailed information about 35 women and girls. The picture emerging based on this data is slightly different from the official one. On October 18th, the Anti-trafficking Day, we will publish this report in order to illustrate what human trafficking looks like today in Sweden.

Among other things, the statistics show that 10 out of these 35 women have not reported being subjected to human trafficking to the police. It becomes obvious that there are circumstances that make it difficult and risky for these women to contact the authorities. The question of asylum plays an important role, but implications of vulnerability form particularly significant obstacles. 9 out of 10 of those who have not reported any offense ended up in the human trafficking business through threats, kidnappings or was sold by a family member. The threats against them will not disappear by contacting the police and they run the risk of yet again ending up in the hands of the procurers. Furthermore, 6 of these 9 women are from a country outside the EU and EEA and they also have children. The mothers of these 8-10 children in total live under constant threats and are too scared to report to police about their situation.

Overall, there are several children involved. Apart from the fact that 7 of these 35 women are underage, another 16 have children; in total 24. The children are either living with relatives in their home countries or together with their mother. The situation for some of these 9 mothers who live with their children is alarming; 4 are lacking legal documents allowing them to stay in Sweden, 1 is living under constant threat and another is a an addict. Those who have been subjected to human trafficking abroad but who have had their problem reported in Sweden are particularly vulnerable. Another concern is that 3 Swedish women have been sold in their own country. The procurers have used several of these vulnerabilities to their advantage. These women often have some sort of relationship with the perpetrator, such as partner or a person they are dependent on. Illiteracy, psychological issues, disabilities, poverty and orphanage are just a few examples of factors and circumstances that procurers are using in order to gain control over the victims.

The survey for the gathering of data from civil society has been put together in collaboration with Plattformen mot människohandel and the national reporter at Rikspolisstyrelsen (Swedish National Police Board). The following organisations have answered the survey and provided data: Brottsofferjouren, Caritas, Ecpat, Ersta Diakoni Barnrättsbyrån, Frälsningsarmén, Insamlings-stiftelsen mot Trafficking, Talita, Stiftelsen Tryggare Sverige and Unga Kvinnors värn.